A Cambridge academic has received what is being cited as the largest grant ever awarded to Cambridge in the humanities.

Dr Alexander Etkind, Fellow at King’s College and a Reader in Russian Literature and Cultural Studies in the Department of Slavonic Studies, was recently awarded a three-year grant of €1 million for the years 2010-13. The grant was made by HERA Consortium (Humanities in the European Research Area), which supports post-doctoral researchers, graduate studentships and a rich international programme of conferences and events.

The grant is expected to be used on a study into comparative memory of the Soviet era in Russia, Ukraine, and Poland, entitled "A Memory War: Cultural Dynamics in Russia, Poland, and Ukraine".

The aim of the study is to examine how a myriad of texts and artefacts perform memory of the traumas of the 20th century, and how the nation-state participates in the public sphere by promoting, revising, or censoring memory events.

The study hopes to employ pioneering methodology to map memory events across Eastern European borders. Literature, film, new media, history textbooks, and public politics will all be important for tracing trajectories during the study.

It will be a multinational and interdisciplinary study, and will be undertaken by five European universities - Cambridge, Groningen, Bergen, Helsinki and Tartu. Dr Etkind will be taking the leading role of running the study.

In addition to Dr Etkind, other Cambridge fellows involved in the project include Mr Rory Finnin from Robinson College and Dr Emma Widdis from Trinity, who are also members of the Department of Slavonic Studies.

The study will offer two fully funded PhD Studentships in Slavonic Studies, covering the period October 1st 2010 to September 31st 2013, which will give two students the chance to work under the supervision of Dr Etkind in the Faculty of Modern & Medieval Languages.

In addition to the PhD studentships, the grant will also provide funding for a Research Associate post in the Department of Slavonic Studies.

Dr Etkind’s current research interests include internal colonization in the Russian Empire, narratology, from Pushkin to Nabokov, and comparative studies of cultural memory.

Dr Etkind described his "happiness" at receiving the largest humanities grant that Cambridge has ever seen.

He told Varsity of his certainty that the "three year long study will provide a bulk of new knowledge and have an impact on the public understanding of East European affairs."

He pointed out that "part of the grant will go towards the dissemination of knowledge," and detailed the "number of public events connected to the study", which he hopes students, and his fellow professors and colleagues will take part in.

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